image copyrightReutersimage captionEmily Ratajkowski has family ties to Bantry

Two teen basketball teams in a small Irish coastal town will soon have a spring in their step after securing sponsorship from a US supermodel.

Emily Ratajkowski answered a funding appeal for kit for the under-15 and under-16 boys of Bantry Basketball Club in County Cork ahead of the new season.

Her support has set the teams' Snapchat group "on fire", said coach Pat Curran.

He said the family of the model, actress and activist had long been "ingrained" in the Bantry community.

The 30-year-old's parents have a home in the town and her father John played for the basketball club "about 20 years ago", Pat told BBC News NI.

'Very decent people'

The closure of many Irish businesses during the country's Covid-19 lockdown had meant that the club was finding it difficult to get sponsorship this year.

"I was speaking John the other night so I just said to him if Emily would be interested in sponsoring one of the teams," said the coach.

image copyrightBantryBCimage captionThe Bantry boys – pictured at the start of 2020 with coach Pat Curran – will have the name of Ratajkowski's clothing company on their jerseys

"He texted her and she was back within five minutes, saying: 'Absolutely I'd love to do it'.

"They're very decent people."

Her financial support will help to buy new kits and cover training expenses for the teams over the next two years.

But Pat said the deal was about much more than money.

He said Ratajkowski's "great sense of social justice" made her an inspiration for the club's young players.

"Everyone knows Emily Ratajkowski, the model and the actress, but there's a lot more to her," he said.

'Ethos of inclusivity'

"She's used a platform over and over again to be an advocate for marginalised groups such as immigrants.

"She's particularly vocal on women's rights, women's reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBT rights.

So thank you @emrata for your kind sponsorship, but more important than that, thank you for being such an inspirational role model for the kids of Bantry.

— Bantry Basketball Club (@bantryhoops) July 22, 2021
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"That is very inspirational to young people and it sets a really good example of an equal and accepting society and that's what we strive for in our club.

"There's a lot going on in young people's heads, especially with the closure of sport, the closure of schools [due to the coronavirus lockdown].

"She's someone that they can really look up look up to with her advocacies and how she carries herself – she really encapsulates that ethos of inclusivity."

Pat said the "feel-good story" had caused a stir in Bantry, with the town revelling in it.

"My own son was delighted – he'd know Emily's parents really well," he said.

"He's been telling me that the Snapchat group is on fire at the moment."